South Shields squad depleted ahead of trip to promotion-chasing Norton

REWARD ... Lee Maitland, right, receives South Shields' February Player of the Month award from Nyall Matthias, of club sponsors Shaun Matthias.
REWARD ... Lee Maitland, right, receives South Shields' February Player of the Month award from Nyall Matthias, of club sponsors Shaun Matthias.

SOUTH Shields manager Jon King says his squad is going to be tested to the limit tomorrow as they look to throw a spanner in the works of Norton’s promotion bid.

The Mariners are expected to be without a number of key players for the trip to Northern League Division Two’s fourth-placed side.

Norton and Stockton Ancients are unbeaten at home this season, and King feels the incentive of becoming the first team to win there will be significant for his side.

However, with captain Chris Locke and long-serving striker Stephen Ramsey suspended, while Aron Burn, Michael Turner and Ben Riding are doubtful, he accepts it is going to be a very tough ask.

King said: “They are massive players for us and big characters in the camp.

“We had to cope without three of our first-choice defensive line-up against Seaham last week, and this is going to be even tougher for us to cope with.

“I’m sure we’ll be OK, because I’m looking at bringing in a few players to help us out, but the squad is going to be really tested.”

Norton’s 3-1 defeat at Stokesley last week left them outside of the promotion places, and King says all the pressure is on them heading into tomorrow’s game at Norton Sports Complex.

King added: “Norton haven’t lost at home all season, and that is something I’ll be mentioning to the players as it would be fantastic to become the first team to win there.

“That would also throw a spanner in the works for their promotion bid, so all of the pressure is on them.

“They are a good side – strong and physical – but are under pressure to deliver points. They lost against Stokesley last week, and I’m sure they’ll want to put that result right.

“We’ll need every one of our players to be on their game if we’re to win, but I’m very confident in the ability of the group.”

Steven Hubery is another player who is expected to miss out for Shields in the 3pm kick-off.